Critical Cargo – A Guide to Towing and Transportation Safety
Even though most of us want to drive our hot rods nearly everywhere we go, there are a lot of reasons to pull it up on a trailer and haul it to the next Goodguys event. Maybe it’s not yet finished, has too rowdy of an engine, is an all-out race car, or is a fresh 100-point restoration that just doesn’t need to see road rash yet. Whether towing home that next project vehicle or loading a fresh creation up to go to an event, sometimes a trailer just makes sense and there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, unless you do it all the time, towing a car is not as simple as it sounds and there are a lot of things to consider when towing from Point A to Point B safely. Is your tow rig up to the task with enough power and tow ratings to safely pull the weight? How about the trailer tires, brake system, weight distribution, and lighting? It is extremely important to get your trailer and load set up properly for a successful, stress-free haul before you merge onto the highway.
Modern technology, especially when it comes to the powerful drivelines of today’s trucks, has made towing physically easier, but there are still a lot of variables to consider when it comes to towing safely. We reached out to a number of companies to see what is new and helpful in the world of towing and were surprised at some of the technology and features available to make your next towing trip a safe and stress-free experience.
There are a lot of advantages to towing with a fifth wheel trailer, but when you’re not towing the bulky fifth wheel assembly sure eats up a lot of load space in the bed of your truck. Gen Y Hitch offers a unique Fifth Wheel to Gooseneck Pin Box that allows you to hook up a fifth wheel trailer to your truck with a gooseneck ball.
The Gen-Y Executive Pin Box hitch assembly utilizes their revolutionary torsion-flex technology creating one of the smoothest towing experiences on the market. Connecting the trailer is even easier with their auto latch coupler. Once connected, you’ll notice a smoother ride with reduced shocks and bumps. Gen-Y provides a five-year warranty on the moving parts and lifetime guarantee on the remaining hitch components.
Automatic transmissions create a serious amount of heat and even more when you’re towing a load. When trans fluid gets too hot, things go wrong resulting in damage and costly repairs. That’s why it is always a good idea to add a transmission cooler to your tow rig and Flex-A-Lite is here to help with their new application-specific Transmission Cooler Kits.
These kits are based around Flex-A-Lite’s 30-row dimpled plate coolers which help reject nearly twice the heat of other low-cost coolers. Each trans cooler features 100-percent aluminum construction for a lightweight, strong assembly. The bracket kit produces a secure mounting solution and is supplied with hose, clamps, and installation hardware with systems available for diesel-powered Rams, Ford Super Duty and F250/350.
Nobody wants to be stuck on the side of the road for any reason, but it’s best to be prepared with a couple Savior Alert LED Safety Lights from Savior Products. These bright LED Safety Lights are designed to replace traditional pyrotechnic road flares as a safer and more effective option.
Each Alert Light features 15 efficient LED lights along with nine lighting modes including multiple flashing/rotating modes, an S.O.S emergency mode, and they can even work as a flashlight. Three AAA batteries power the efficient LEDs and there is an integrated magnet and hook assembly on the back to help with positioning the lights. The Savior Products Alert Lights are weatherproof, D.O.T compliant, and supplied in a handy carrying case.
Summit Racing Equipment
Performance Tool Roadside Emergency Kit
If you were never in Boy Scouts, it’s time for a lesson in being prepared for your next road trip: get yourself a Performance Tool Roadside Emergency Kit from Summit Racing. This handy package includes everything you need to address minor repairs to help get you back on the road.
This Kit includes a compact 12-volt tire inflator along with a set of 8-feet long jumper cables. There’s also a tire gauge, a warning triangle, handy flashlight, pliers, screwdriver, and a snap-blade knife. Electrical tape, cable ties, bungee cords, gloves, and even a rain poncho are supplied. Everything bundles up nicely to fit in an easy-to-pack bag for your next journey.
Secure Your Stuff
If you’re towing an enclosed trailer, chances are there are cleaning supplies, maintenance items, and tools in the trailer right next to your show car. Speedway Motors reminded us of the importance in securing all of those accessories and offers a Deluxe Trailer Organizer Kit to help.
Speedway’s heavy-duty Organizer Kit gets your extra tow straps and bungees off the floor, secured and organized. There’s also a bin to hold any fuel jugs safely as well as a holster for cordless drills, along with a spray can shelf and a trailer door cabinet. Not only will this kit help you get organized, but it also helps keep things in their place and away from your pride and joy during long hauls.
Sidebar – Tongue Weight Tips
One of the most critical things to consider when positioning your car on a trailer is the tongue weight. This refers to the down-force of the trailer onto the hitch. This can easily be altered by moving the car on the trailer toward the front or back. The pros at JimGlo Trailers explained that improper tongue weight will lead to an unstable trailer or poor tow vehicle handling.
If there is not enough weight on the tongue, meaning there is too much weight in the rear of the trailer, the tongue can pull upward on the hitch, causing the rear wheels of the tow vehicle to lose traction or grip and cause loss of control and can also lead to the trailer feeling unstable at higher speeds. Conversely, if there is too much tongue weight, the front wheels of the tow vehicle will be loaded less, which affects the steering control and traction.
As an example, JimGlo pointed out that the ball hitch of a small trailer should have 6-10-percent of the loaded trailer’s weight, while a larger trailer could carry 10-15-percent. This is a rule of thumb to give you an idea, but always check with the trailer manufacturer and understand the limits of your tow vehicle. For more details or the procedure for checking and setting up your trailer, reach out to JimGlo or take a look at their website.
Backing up your trailer can be a big enough challenge, but how about expertly maneuvering your trailer in the dark? That’s a whole new experience, but with the help of KC Hilites, you can illuminate what’s behind you with the flip of a switch.
KC’s C2 Back-Up light kit is based on their ultra-wide 120-degree flood reflector optics producing a balanced beam of light across a horizontal field of vision to help you see what you’re backing into. The lights are built to last in a MIL-spec die cast aluminum housing topped with shatterproof lexan lenses. Dual oversized heat sinks provide maximum heat dissipation with optimum light performance for up to 50,000 hours.
Big Brakes = Big Safety
Zipping down a hill with your show car in tow is not the best time to find out about your tow rig’s brake-fade qualities. In fact, there’s never a good time to experience brake-fade, but upgrading to a set of Wilwood’s direct-fit Big Brake truck kits will ensure you miss the entire fading experience.
Their Big Brake Upgrade kits incorporate 14-16-inch rotors compared to the 12.5-13.5-inch rotors on most trucks (even 1-ton pickups!). These oversized rotors deliver more stopping torque with greater heat capacity. The Tactical Extreme kits feature TX6R forged aluminum calipers, which were developed for military vehicles, to provide superior clamping force. All of these Wilwood kits are engineered to work in concert with the factory master cylinder, ABS, and all the electronic controls.
Ignition Key Lock
There is at least one padlock on your trailer, probably more, which means you have to be sure to have the key to every lock, every time. We’re sure there’s more than one of you reading this who has lost or forgotten a key to your trailer. BOLT locks offers a simple solution to ease the multi-key game once and for all with their Break-through One-key Lock Technology (BOLT) series of locks.
BOLT locks are designed for specific vehicles so the ignition key can be used in the lock! When you insert your ignition key into the BOLT lock for the first time, a series of spring-loaded tumblers move up and down until they are matched exactly to your specific key. The first time the key is rotated, the cylinder is uniquely coded to that key alone. When the key is removed, the cylinder moves into the locked position. BOLT offers padlocks as well as receiver locks to fit Class 1 through Class 5 hitches to help you secure your trailer and its contents – all with one key.
Scoggin Dickey Parts Center
High Tech Towing
Modern technology has made hauling our cars safer as Chevrolet’s late-model truck features have shown us. Their engineers continue to push the edge of safety and convenience whether you’re hauling a single-axle utility trailer or a tandem 40ft gooseneck. Their Trailering App allows several profiles to be saved and loaded on the center console touch screen where simply selecting a profile will adjust brake settings, displays miles driven connected with average MPG, and can even provide trailer tire pressure and temperature (when the Trailer TPM system is installed, PN 84338125) and even maintenance reminders.
When behind the wheel, you can have four hitch views, six driving views, and five parking views from the various cameras on the truck and trailer with accessory camera PN 84946379 installed. For the transparent trailer view, you must have a compatible trailer (31-foot max length from coupler to middle of tires). Other driving features include a Jack-Knife alert, Trailer Side Blind Spot alert, Tow/Haul Mode reminder, and Theft alert to help consumers stay safe on their travels.
Sidebar – Trailer Brake Basics
With a trailer in tow, you have to remember there are a few thousand pounds pushing you when you start to slow down, which is why it’s imperative to have a good braking system on your trailer. The majority of car trailers are equipped with electronically controlled brakes which are regulated through a controller installed on your tow rig. (There are also trailers that use hydraulic brake systems that function through the force and momentum of the trailer to activate a hydraulic cylinder setup, but these are mostly used on boats or rental trailers.)
One of the most useful parts of electronically controlled trailer brakes is that you can easily adjust the system to function best for your application through a brake controller. A controller is required for electronic trailer braking and many new trucks either have one built-in or already have a connector under the dash to ease the installation. If you’re towing with an older vehicle, a brake controller can easily be wired in.
A brake controller typically mounts under the dash within reach of the driver. It receives an electronic signal from the vehicle’s brake circuit and from there, it applies power to trailer brakes. There are a variety of controllers available, many with different settings or adjustments that can be set by the driver to best fit the trailer and weight being towed. There will be sensitivity and maximum braking adjustments as well as a time-based or inertia-based calibrations.
Another useful feature is the ability to activate the trailer brakes without touching the brake pedal. This form of manual activation cab be useful in correcting minor trailer sway or to gradually slow down on a steep hill before stops. To learn more about brake controllers and their features, check out www.curtmfg.com.
Titan Fuel Tanks
Go the Distance
Don’t you hate when you finally merge into that road trip mojo-zone only to have to pull off to fuel up? Titan Fuel Tanks can keep you in the road zone with one of their extra-large-capacity fuel tanks. Their tanks are made from military-grade polymer so they’re rust free, corrosion resistant, and they’re made in the USA! What’s even better is that Titan backs them up with a lifetime warranty.
These extra-capacity tanks are designed for each vehicle to ensure a perfect fit with maximum capacity. Some applications can more than double the range of your tow rig so you can reach places you never thought possible. Titan also offers in-bed transfer and auxiliary tanks, after-axle tanks, spare tire fuel tanks, and other refueling systems. Go the extra mile (or hundred).
An important accessory that every tow vehicle should have is a quality set of mud flaps. This is extra important if you’re towing with a dually! Gravel, rocks, and debris are constantly getting picked up and launched from your spinning tires right toward your nice enclosed trailer or you classic car being towed close behind. You don’t have to settle for an ugly, cheap flap to bolt to your truck because Putco offers custom-fit, extra-strong Mud Skins.
Mud Skins are molded from Putco’s Gorillastuff flexible material for extreme strength as well as cool looks. Their new Hex Shield or Solid Shield will protect your cargo from rocks, snow, and whatever other debris your tires pick up. Mud Skins are laser cut for a perfect fit, available in polished or brushed stainless and carbon black, and are made in the USA.
Mac’s Tie Downs
Low Down Nets
Unless you’re into 4x4s, lowering your car or truck is a time-honored hot rodding tradition. Our cars look better and should handle better when lowered, but when it comes to tying it down on a trailer, it can be a challenge. The experts at Mac’s Tie Downs recognized the issue of crawling under a low cruiser on a trailer and created a better way to secure a frame-laying rod with their Custom Fit Tire Nets and Block Straps.
Their Tire Nets avoid contact with the axle, chassis, and wheels, eliminating the risk of damage to the vehicle’s finish by wrapping around the tire. Your choice of end hardware pairs with Mac’s VersaTie track (L-Track) or E/A-Track, as well as idler fittings to ensure the webbing stays clear of the vehicle. If you have a lowered ride, or even a tall 4×4, Mac’s has your Tie Down solutions.
It’s tough to see exactly what’s going on behind your trailer on the road. It seems that there’s always that one car that likes being right behind you, but out of your mirror’s view. Worse yet is when they settle in at about the same speed but stay perfectly in the blind spot at the edge of your trailer. Brandmotion is all about vehicle safety solutions and has an answer to your towing woes with their new Transparent Trailer Rear Vision System.
This versatile new safety video technology replaces your current rear view mirror with a live streaming full HD video screen. A single camera is installed on the end of the trailer, with a harness running up to the trailer hitch using a weatherproof quick disconnect connector. When fully installed the image from the rear camera cleanly displays on the Brandmotion edge-to-edge mirror letting you know what’s behind you.
Sidebar – Load Range & Toyo Tires
We received information from Toyo Tires about their F-load range tires for their popular Open Country line of light truck tires, including their M/T, R/T and A/TIII series. The F-load range tires allow for a higher carrying capacity at a higher inflation pressure compared to tires of the same size with an E-load range. These tires address the increase in payload and towing capacity of today’s trucks so you can still personalize their rigs with a properly rated tire.
As an example, some E-load range tires cap out at 65psi, whereas an F-load range will allow the tire to max out at 80psi. With the ever-increasing payloads of newer ¾- and 1-ton trucks, it is important for a replacement tire to match or exceed the rating of the original equipment tire in order for the truck to sustain the vehicle manufacturer’s payload and tow rating. The F-Load tires by Toyo meet these capacities as well as the pressure requirements for factory TPMS settings, which will help to reduce headaches when plus sizing your truck’s tires.
The folks at Toyo also explained that air pressure is the primary source of the load carrying capacity of the tire, so it is extremely important that the tire is properly inflated to meet the load capacity, performance rating of the tire, and vehicle on which it’s being used. They also recommend reviewing the vehicle’s owner manual to understand the proper towing practices, loads, tongue weighs and requirements of your truck.
Weigh it Right
Placement of your car on a trailer will affect the tongue weight and therefore the handling and safety while towing the trailer. Curt, the trailer hitch and towing accessory company, understands what it takes to achieve the proper towing performance for a safe journey. To help you set up your trailer before a long haul, they developed a handy app called the BetterWeigh.
BetterWeigh wirelessly links to a smartphone to display real-time vehicle and trailer weights. It easily plugs into any standard vehicle diagnostic port (OBD-II) under the steering wheel and uses Bluetooth to connect to an Apple or Android phone. It then sends a live readout of all weights related to towing, including the gross weight of a vehicle and trailer, cargo, payload, tongue weight, pin weight and weight distribution. This streamlines the towing setup process for any vehicle-trailer combination and promotes maximum safety on the road.
Long & Low Ramps
Lowered suspensions and low-profile tires can make it challenging to load your car on a trailer. No one likes to hook a header collector or scuff their oil pan on their trailer, which is why Race Ramps developed a new low profile ramp set designed to ease the angle and transition of loading and unloading your vehicle.
The RR-TR-11-2 ramp set provides a gentle two stage approach with the ramp starting at a 4.3-degree angle and increasing to a 5.4-degree angle over a long, smooth incline. Each two-piece ramp interlocks for a secure mount, yet each assembly only weighs in at 17-pounds for easy storage and handling. The ramps are finished with a durable coating and will support vehicles up to 6,000 pounds.
Not all batteries are created equal and if you have a battery in your trailer, it’s safe to say it doesn’t get used a lot. A typical car battery is designed as a reserve to simply start the engine and typically is used often so it stays charged. A car battery isn’t designed for the sporadic operation that a trailer battery receives and if used in a trailer, its lifespan will be drastically shortened.
That’s where Optima’s Bluetop batteries come in. The Bluetop is a dual-purpose starting and deep-cycle battery with extremely low internal resistance and more consistent power output. It also has faster recharge times, offering plenty of power to supply trailer lights, a winch, or other electrical accessories. The Bluetop is available in three different sizes – D34M, D27M and D31M – and is designed specifically for your hauling needs. With superior deep-cycling, optimal starting power, and up to three times longer service life, the Optima Bluetop gets you and your trailer there and back again.
An important aspect of safely towing a loaded trailer is to maintain a level ride height. A level tow vehicle has much better control for safety as well as comfort for the passengers. Hellwig Suspension Products has been helping people tow their trailers safely for several generations with their Helper Spring Kits.
Helper Springs are designed to sit on top of the factory leaf springs at the rear of your truck and work together to effectively increase the level load rating of your truck. Hellwig’s kits are adjustable, easy to install, and are designed, forged, and manufactured in their California facility.
Programing and Towing
Handheld performance programmers have evolved significantly since the days of the ‘chip,’ and Superchips has been at the forefront of the technology and data that runs our trucks. Their Flashpaq Programmer will help you tune-in more performance and torque without opening the hood! It’s an easy way to improve towing performance, economy, and more on gas or diesel engines.
Another useful feature of the Flashpaq is its ability to easily correct the speedometer if you add a set of larger tires or change gears. You can also address shift firmness, review driveline parameters in real-time, and read (and clear) diagnostic trouble codes. If there’s ever a revision for your application, the Flashpaq can easily be updated over the web.
Sidebar – Trailer and Towing Insurance
To once again preach the Boy Scounts mantra, when towing your classic to an event, you should make sure your trailer and its payload are covered in case of an accident, theft, or damage. We reached out to the classic insurance pros at Grundy Insurance to learn more about trailers and towing insurance.
Grundy will insure your trailer for an Agreed Value, just like your classic car or truck. The interesting thing about trailer insurance is that when it is parked, you’ll need the comprehensive insurance which covers fire, theft, flood and other damage that may occur when the trailer is NOT in motion. Once the trailer is moving (being towed), you need collision coverage for any repairs or replacement in the event of an accident. Liability – the coverage that involves your financial responsibility for damages you cause to people and their property in an accident – is not required on trailers, as the tow vehicle assumes liability for the trailer when it is in motion. In short, make sure you understand the insurance backing on your tow vehicle and your trailer.
Inside the Trailer:
This is interesting. While your classic car is strapped securely inside the trailer as you’re rolling down the road, if it is damaged due to an accident, it is considered a collision, so you need to have collision coverage on the vehicle being hauled. If you just have comprehensive coverage, there may be challenges to what is covered.
Transporting a Vehicle:
So, you finally found the car of your dreams and are having it transported across the country by a shipping company. Before you ship it, Grundy recommends putting full Classic Car insurance on the vehicle with an Agreed Value. If there is an accident, you’ll be covered through Grundy, just in case the shipping company doesn’t hold enough insurance on their side. It’s just another way Grundy helps protect your investment!